Several times a year we make the drive from Princeton, West Virginia to Kutztown, Pennsylvania to visit my daughter who is attending university there. On the drive we pass an interesting looking building off the side of I-78 declaring it to be Roadside America location of the “world’s greatest indoor miniature village.” Every trip I expressed my desire to stop there and see what it is about.
Well, I finally got my wish.
As soon as we stepped through the little curtained partition that hid this secret world from prying eyes, only one word came to mind, “Wow!” Stretched out in front of us was a 7,450 square foot miniature world consisting of little houses, running trains, and intricate roadways. Instantly I felt a child-like wonder as I attempted to take it all in.
Every wall is painted, providing a landscape background complete with the Statue of Liberty and American flag reminding us of an era when things were a bit simpler and life moved a little slower. It is easy to imagine families of decades past stopping here to marvel at this little universe. The focal point of the miniature world is a majestic waterfall that spills out of a mountain, feeding water throughout the village and even providing a home to live goldfish.
The entire display is encircled by walkways at various levels that allow guests to take in the miniature word from various vantage points. 200 years of American history is on display here with plaques along the rail to explain facts, inspiration, and stories about certain parts of the town. In conjunction to the little plaques are buttons that allow the guests to interact with the village by sending trains, trolley cars, and little figures into action, thus making the stop off educational as well as fun.
Hand painted stained glass churches, inscribed headstones, a working coal mine, children playing in a park are all but a few things that can be seen here. Each item is strategically placed to tell a story. About thirty minutes into our visit an announcement is made that a show is about to start. As patriotic music filled the room, the lights slowly dimmed, stars came out, and lamp posts were lit creating a peaceful yet moving depiction of night in the miniature world. Slowly dawn came and with it the daily routine of the little figurines that reside in this little America.
The miniature village started as a hobby of Laurence Grieriger back in the 1930’s but his passion for building the tiny world soon sent him looking for a bigger place to put it. In the late 1940’s construction of a warehouse in Shartlesville, PA began and in 1953 Grieriger opened the doors for all the world to enjoy his creation. Today, Roadside America Miniature Village is ran by Grieriger’s grand-daughter and her family who maintain the village just as her grand-father had left it.
Whether you live in the area or are just passing through, I highly suggest paying this unique bit of American history a visit.